December 3, 2023

Still, Suki didn’t when I met him in early February at Tellurian’s office in downtown Houston. The company owns a small space in a building owned by the oil giant TotalEnergies, and from the upstairs conference room Suki and I could look out and see the far expanse of the Texas City oil complex, its storage tanks and refineries. It spews bright orange flames. Despite all of Tellurian’s hurdles, Sookie was a bit uneasy and spoke with the kind of outrageous confidence one would expect from a man used to raising billions of dollars for long-term projects. He wore one of his trademark double-breasted suits, along with a pink tie, and as he spoke, he would occasionally remove a retractable ballpoint pen from his jacket and fiddle with his vertebra.

I wondered why Souki was so determined to get back into the LNG business. After all, he had already amassed a fortune, and the industry he had started was reaching maturity. Tellurian was still several years and billions of dollars away from being able to turn a profit again. Why didn’t he stay at home in Aspen?

“The world is crying out for natural gas, and I would like to be able to get natural gas delivered as quickly as possible,” he said. There was already a power shortage in Europe during the winter, as a result of the pandemic’s rapid recovery, and people in Britain were worried about paying their gas bills – how could he not want to supply them with more fuel? Moreover, he said, “Emerging countries will add two billion people, and their living standards are improving all the time. They will not say, ‘I don’t want to live like you.'”

As Souki sees it, the need to supply the world with energy in the short term outweighs the long-term demand to operate on carbon emissions. The world may face energy crises and climate change, he said, “but one will happen this month, and the other will happen in 40 years.” He added, “If you tell someone, ‘We’re going to run out of electricity this month,’ and then you talk to the same person about what’s going to happen in 40 years, they’ll tell you, ‘What do I care? 40 years from now? “

Two weeks later, Russia invaded Ukraine. The booming US LNG industry has rushed to fill the gap left by Russian gas, shifting its focus from Asia to Europe. Shipments that had already left US export facilities for Japan or China changed course and headed to France and the Netherlands, fetching several times the price they would have received just days earlier. A few weeks after the invasion began, the United States and the European Commission announced a long-term agreement to help Europe free itself of Russian gas, with American producers promising to supply the continent with at least a third of what Russia once provided the continent. Bulgaria, Germany and Greece raced to build new import terminals so they could accept US gas before winter, as Russia cut gas shipments to country after country; In the end, Germany was going to flip the old coal plants. Just a few months ago, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, these same European governments affirmed their intention to abandon fossil fuels, but now they must abandon those ambitions.

I met Suki back in April in New York, in the downtown offices of a media strategy firm. Souki was taking advantage of the chaos in the energy markets to make his moral case once again to send crack gas around the world: He’d been stopping in New York to speak with potential investors and lay out a new media strategy for Tellurian before heading to Washington. To meet policy makers and legislators. We gathered together at a conference table in the hallway.

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